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Welcome to “Research Matters”

Mon Mar 19 2012
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Welcome to Research Matters, a new blog highlighting research at the Census Bureau. We aim to discuss important research in government statistics, and stimulate informed debate. Research ranges from substantive topics of interest in demography, economics and other social sciences, to methodological questions, such as the role of statistical modeling in surveys, designs for the Decennial Census, research on record linkage and confidentiality protection.

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The Census Bureau faces public misperceptions of its activities – one is that we do the Decennial Census, and then twiddle our collective thumbs for ten years. In fact, the Bureau conducts a myriad of other censuses and surveys that provide crucial information to the public. Another is that science and research are not important to us – that data are magically deposited on the internet by the “fact fairy,” a cousin of the tooth fairy who replaced our lost teeth with coins. In fact there’s a whole lot of science in collecting, disseminating and interpreting data, as this blog will illustrate.

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Science and research has always played a key role at the Census Bureau. Edwards Deming, the guru of quality improvement, worked at the Census Bureau, and Morris Hansen and colleagues revolutionized data collection by adopting complex scientific sampling designs. The Census Bureau was at the forefront of the computer revolution, as well.

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Research is more important to us now than ever before. There is increased demand for data products, and the questions asked are becoming more complex and hard to measure. On the other hand, surveys and censuses are increasingly expensive and challenging to mount. Research is essential to reconcile these tendencies.

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Census Bureau Director Groves formed a new Research & Methodology Directorate to tackle this issue. The blog will describe research going on there and elsewhere at the Census Bureau. If you have suggestions for good topics, feel free to contact us at census.research@census.gov. We hope you enjoy the blog and provide your comments!

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